In the hills of Sussex County, New Jersey, the Crystal Springs Resort operates six golf courses and a number of other installations. One of the golf courses, opened in 2001, is called Crystal Springs Wild Turkey. It is high-elevation golf, where mornings can chill a bit, before giving way to the warming sun of the highlands. Wild Turkey was designed by Roger Rulewich, the principal designer for Robert Trent Jones, senior. Wild Turkey is unlike the firm’s expected course, in that it does not overwhelm with forced carries over sand expanses and water. With the exception of the glorious 7th (over a quarry, below) and a meandering stream in the basin holes (the back nine,) Wild Turkey offers width and an opportunity to move the ball forward along the ground.
The golf course begins high on a ridge, drops immediately toward the aforementioned basin. By the third tee, you’ve entered the basin, but you won’t be there for long. Holes five through eleven return to the ridge, but not the clubhouse. Wild Turkey is an out-and-back course, not the double-loop style common to the USA. There is a wonderful, halfway house past the 11th green, where delicious snacks and sandwiches are served. The course returns to the basin for holes 12 through 17, and spectacular views of the entire lowland can be seen from a treehouse adjacent to the elevated 14th tee. The final climb, up the 18th, is deceptive. Although the hole looks for all the world to be an insurmountable slope, a well-struck drive leaves a short-iron approach to a large, undulating putting surface. It is a fitting finish to an enjoyable golf course drive.